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Layer 2 Ethernet Services
Extend your LAN across town or across the country, even internationally, rather than simply linking locations

By: John Shepler

Corporate LANs or Local Area Networks have traditionally been just that -- local. But now you have the option to link multiple business sites into one very large, all encompassing, business LAN. You do that with layer 2 Ethernet services.

Linking LAN Islands The Traditional Way
You may wonder what the big deal about this is. After all, you’ve successfully linked multiple locations together for years. But actually, you’ve been linking multiple islands. Each LAN is separate and independent. It has a very clear scope. Usually, the domain of one LAN is a single building. Occasionally, very large buildings may have multiple LANs. It’s also possible to connect multiple buildings on a common campus on the same LAN. The deciding factor is where your ownership of the property leaves off. Once you leave the building or corporate campus, you typically hire a common carrier to transport your network packets.

The reason that your business locations each have their own LAN networks and simply communicate between them is that there has traditionally been a protocol conversion needed to get across town or across the country. Telecom standards have been based on telephony requirements consisting of multiplexed channels. LAN networking standards have settled on packet switching using the Ethernet protocol. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just extend your Ethernet-based LAN across town?

Can You Really Extend Ethernet Across Town?
Well, now you can and you won’t have to run the cabling yourself. Carriers are now setup to transport Ethernet signals as Ethernet. The connections can be either layer 2 switched or layer 3 routed. With layer 2 switching, the Metro Ethernet link becomes part of your overall LAN topology. The office across town is no farther away on the network than the office down the hall.

What level of services are available? You’ll be pleased to know that you can order Ethernet services in the same standardized speeds as used on your network. That includes 10 Mbps Ethernet, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet or GigE, and 10,000 Mbps 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 10 GigE.

What’s more, you aren’t limited to simply connecting buildings in the same metropolitan area on the same network. You can extend Metro Ethernet services beyond your immediate metropolitan area to other metropolitan areas. That typically includes medium and larger cities and suburbs. Competitive carriers with nationwide fiber optic footprints can provide as much bandwidth as you require.

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